More about the book

“Wilding the Urban Garden:
an Illustrated Diary of Nature’s Year”

What's the book about?

Wilding the Urban Garden is the illustrated first-person account of the author’s day-to-day wildlife encounters in his urban garden over the period of a year, drawing readers into a rich world that is by turns fascinating, enchanting, entertaining, dramatic and astonishing.

Illustration from "Wilding the Urban Garden"

An illustrated gift book

Interweaving diary entries and beautiful illustrations and told with a touch of humour, this book brings to life the charismatic myriad inhabitants of this extraordinarily prolific urban habitat, the plants, animals, birds and insects, from the big and bold to the minute and the secretive, in all their mysterious interconnectedness.

An interview on BBC Radio

Author Gerry Maguire Thompson talks about the book

A video introduction

Gerry talks about the book from the garden

The book also promotes deeper understanding and insight into the miraculous workings of nature in its incredible intricacy, answering questions such as: how is it that every three to seven years every tree over a wide area can agree to have a spectacularly abundant fruiting season? ....What’s the reason for sparrows living alongside humans for the past 11,000 years? ....And just why does birdsong sound so beautiful to us when to the birds it’s so often expressing hostility and aggression?

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Extracts from the book

January 1st

Serious garden-watching resumes today after cessation of festivities. Very mild weather. A large bumble bee is visiting the flowers of the Mahonia Japonica for nectar. At this time of year it’s got to be a queen– the only one who survives through the winter– needing some nourishment to get through the cold months. So on occasional warmer days like this she emerges and follows the exquisite scent to this flower.

January 2nd

The resident male blackbird is stabbing at windfall fruit from the apple tree, that still remain intact on the ground through the winter. He’s starting to look glossy and his beak is turning a brighter colour: preparing to defend this very desirable territory, I imagine.

January 3rd  

The sparrows are out in force today, with more fine weather after rain yesterday. I never tire of watching sparrows in the garden. There’s a large and growing flock who seem to never leave the garden; all their needs are met here: food, protection, nest-sites, safe roosting – and lots of opportunities to bicker at one another.

I shouldn’t really have favourite species, but the sparrows are the ones I’d miss most if they weren’t around. They’re here within the garden all the time: they eat here, sleep here, breed and bring up their young here – all up close and within sight. They represent the most constant and most dynamic element of the whole little garden ecosystem, they bring the most life to the scene for the most time, and their presence and success provides an indication that the garden is working well.

January 5th

A woodmouse (Apodemus Sylvaticus: ‘one who goes abroad among the sylvan glades’) has been popping into the conservatory on the odd sunny day when we have the doors open to the outside, looking for something to eat. It’s a creature with an undeniably high cuteness quotient: beautiful golden brown colouring, big eyes and ears, a long tail– and lacking the grey house-mouse’s less endearing habit of moving permanently into your home. The large eyes and ears are there because it’s usually nocturnal but it’s willing to be flexible about working hours in winter when its reserves of stored food may have run out 


Read more stuff:

Why do we love hearing birds sing when they don’t? here

The accidental rescue of a sparrow hawk victim:  here